Sunday, February 12, 2006

Women's rights - the road to social development?

The first session of day two of the Seventh Jeddah Economic Forum in the beginning of February began with a focus on women. Cherie Blair, a lawyer and wife of British Prime Minister Tony Blair, spoke about women's rights as a key to solving social problems. According to Arab News she said that "these rights are not a Western concept that is being forced on other cultures as some think. Instead, she said, these rights are shared by all religions, including Islam, which has given women a special status". According to Arab News she did not elaborate on the situation of women in Western countries. The paper is right about the fact that women have not acquired a complete equality with men in any Western countries - but at least they are allowed to get a driver's licence. In Northern Europe the proportion of women in parliaments and governments is approaching 40 per cent. Men on average still make more than women. But women are catching up. Maybe women are more exposed to domestic violence in the West compared to the East. Anyway, the following poem expresses beautifully the plight - or is it happiness - of women in Arab countries?

Iranian woman’s poem about the wonders of wearing the Hijab taken from Gates of Vienna.http://gatesofvienna.blogspot.com/2005/08/poem-for-women-in-islam.html.

Be Proud of Hijab
You look at me and call me oppressed,
Simply because of the way I'm dressed,
You know me not for what's inside,
You judge the clothing I wear with pride,
My body's not for your eyes to hold,
You must speak to my mind,
not my feminine mold,
I'm an individual,
I'm no mans slave,
It's Allah’s pleasure that I only crave,
I have a voice so I will be heard,
For in my heart I carry His word,
"O ye women, wrap close your cloak,
So you won't be bothered by ignorant folk",
Man doesn't tell me to dress this way,
It's a Law from God that I obey,
Oppressed is something I'm truly NOT,
For liberation is what I've got,
It was given to me many years ago,
With the right to prosper, the right to grow,
I can climb mountains or cross the seas,
Expand my mind in all degrees,
For God Himself gave us LIB-ER-TY,
When He sent Islam, To You and Me!

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